The culturally rich heritage of our country is the epitome of many festivals and celebrations that go on throughout the year. Festivals are always fun and frolic filled up with interesting rituals and traditions followed by scrumptious delicacies.
Yet again, it is spring time. The time for celebrating New Year in India through the festival of Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka is finally here. This auspicious New Year which is celebrated in the month of Chaitra (the first month of the Hindu ‘lunisolar’ calendar) indicating the beginning of a new year. The Hindu calendar observes months according to the phases of the moon and it is during this time of the year when the bright light of the moon first shines that it is celebrated in various parts of the country in various names.
Here are some interesting traditions and rituals associated with this festival. The rituals are more or less same-
- An auspicious oil-bath – Traditionally people begin celebrating this festival by waking up early (at dawn) and bathe extensively in oil. It is known as Abhyangasna in Maharashtra and Thailabhyangana Snanam in Andhra and Karnataka.
- Cleaning and Decorations – After an oil bath they sweep their courtyards and plaster the homes with cow dung! This tradition is basically carried out by people in the villages. After a bath one should decorate the lintel of every door with a bunting of mango leaves (known as Thorana in Andhra Pradesh) signifying good harvest and good health and red flowers. Red flowers are used because red colour indicates auspiciousness.
- While making beautiful rangoli patterns on the doorstep in front of the Gudi is yet another practice carried out by most. Families make these intricate patterns together, giving them time to bond with one another.
- And here it is! All decked up GUDI is ready to be hoisted! – This is the most important ritual associated with this festival in Maharashtra. A Gudi is a long bamboo pole and a green, red or yellow bright colored silk zari cloth is tied to its tip. On this gathi (an Indian sweet) is tied along with neem leaves, coconuts, mango leaves and a garland of marigold flowers. On top of the Gudi is then placed an empty inverted jug made of brass, silver or copper and hoisted on the right side of the main entrance of the home, facing the sky.
- While in Telugu culture, Ugadi Puja is performed praying for prosperity and happiness.
- Pray, Fest, Eat and Be Merry – Unlike most Indian festivals where prasad comprises something sweet, Gudi Padwa is one of the few festivals where people are treated with a unique preparation made from neem and jaggery. The bitter-sweet flavour resembles through the journey of life – mixed with happiness and sorrows. While the Gudi offering contains neem leaves and flowers, jaggery, cumin seeds, asafoetida and soaked dal.
- Besides, many Konkani and Marathi dishes are prepared including ‘Gathi’, which are together cherished by the families. More than this, clad in traditional nine-yard saris, women take to the streets to celebrate Gudi Padwa.
- Ugadi Pachadi – Raw mango slices are among the ingredients of Ugadi Pachadi, a must-taste festive dish that is unique to the culinary culture of the Telugu people. The women in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka get busy making several different mango preparations. Ugadi Pachadi is not just an overtone of the festive celebration but also an integral part of the cultural tradition and a reference to the philosophy of life in the Telugu community. It is a dish of six different tastes and flavors – jaggery, raw mango, tamarind, neem flowers, salt and green chilli – that range from sweet to bitter. The ingredients of the dish symbolize the different phases and experiences of life that everyone undergoes during the journey from cradle to grave.
It’s time to enjoy, sit back and get immersed in the fiesta of celebrations for a new beginning and new life.
Happy Gudi Padwa and Happy Ugadi!